Q2 2019: Market Insights for Indirect Tax & Tax Technology

Each quarter, our specialist Indirect Tax team monitors the number of in-house vacancies released onto the job market across Europe to provide you with a quarterly overview of recruiting trends. The data below provides a digestible snapshot of the in-house market from adverts posted directly from employers.*

*Note – we omit the number of confidential mandates that HJ are assigned or job adverts posted by other recruitment firms. It should also be highlighted that many vacancies go unadvertised due to confidential or highly sensitive searches.

What happened in Q2?

Following a highly active start to 2019, recruitment into indirect tax and tax technology across the UK & Ireland, BENELUX, and DACH grew by 21% in Q2. However, with a slight decline in new vacancies across the UK – and yet another poor quarter of activity in Belgium and Luxembourg – this overall increase was propped up by a growing appetite to recruit in Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland. 

The UK & Ireland continued to take the lead in Q2 but candidates faced a 17% decrease in the number of new positions offered in commerce and industry. Compared with Q1’s surge of regional roles, this quarter’s activity was predominantly London and Dublin-based, which more or less accounts for the reduction in new jobs.

As you’ll recall from our Q1 Market Insights, opportunities in the BENELUX were extremely scarce and – unfortunately for job seekers here – this flat trend continued with only one more vacancy added this quarter (17) compared to what we saw in January to March (16). However, the story for candidates in Q2 wasn’t all doom and gloom as the number of reposted vacancies from Q1 remained very high, indicating that companies are struggling to fill jobs. Even amongst leading multinational brands (whom you’d expect to attract a sizeable talent pool), vacancies were still re-released onto the market. There are many answers to this (*as I scribble down a new blog idea*), but it appears that the use of unspecialised recruiters and poor in-house recruitment efforts have prohibited the successful completion of these positions. The candidates are certainly out there!

In the neighbouring DACH region, however, an influx of new jobs in Germany and Switzerland contributed to a 309% increase in the last quarter! With a fairly equal spread of jobs across the grades, one key trend that we identified was a heightened demand for tax technology professionals in both industry and professional services. With 42 new vacancies emerging in the DACH market, the task that now lies ahead is ensuring they’re filled!

What were the trends at each level?
Leadership grades 
  • With senior candidates across Europe still champing at the bit for new roles (and such few available), the proportion of job seekers versus live jobs remains heavily imbalanced. The opportunists here are the tax software firms who continue to appoint senior in-house professionals, providing a bridge between the traditional in-house and professional services divide. But we have seen growth at this level (albeit small) across 2019 and, in Q2, the number of Director opportunities doubled in the UK & Ireland and trebled in the DACH region. Once again, though, BENELUX failed to provide any leadership roles, making it six months without an advertised senior vacancy.
Senior Manager 
  • Again, this end of the market dropped slightly in the UK but we identified 25% growth across BENELUX and 100% growth in the DACH region. It’s worth noting the difficulty of measuring the true grade of an Indirect Tax Manager in C&I. For instance, in the last year, we’ve spoken to Managers on packages that range from 50K to 200K, so the scarcity of Senior Manager opportunities can often be found by exploring Manager roles in more detail.
  • This is where the action is happening (again)! Representing 37% of this quarter’s jobs – and a 34% increase in the number of Q1 manager roles – the wheels continue to turn in the hunt for more managers. As mentioned above, there’s a degree of subjectivity on what level of experience constitutes a manager, but the takeaway here is that, if you hold 5+ years of experience, there’s a fruitful market out there for you to explore!
Assistant Manager 
  • With Analyst recruitment booming in Q1, it’s no surprise that there’s been an increased number of Team Lead and Assistant Manager roles floating onto the market. The demand this quarter has increased from 12 (Q1) to 18 vacancies (Q2).
  • Whilst recruitment at the analyst grades has declined by 25%, this end of the market continues to remain buoyant across Europe. As mentioned in our Q1 report, with new e-invoicing and reporting requirements occupying the attention of in-house tax departments, the demand for analysts is only set to continue!

Whilst we explore the peaks and troughs in these reports, it’s important to remember that – with another quarter’s worth of evidence – it remains an excellent time to be an indirect tax or tax technology professional. In industries that are so easily affected by economic or political turmoil, the world of tax (and particularly indirect tax) continues to grow.

The prevailing issue, though, is not only finding these sought-after skills but securing them. Anyone can perform a LinkedIn search or write a job advert, but this quarter’s data alone highlights how competitive the landscape is for employers in this space and, ultimately, how far more needs to be done to engage with such a specialist market.

Until then, let’s hope for a healthy Q3! As we enter the holiday season, our inboxes at Harvey John consist of a lot of  ‘Out of Office’ subject lines, typically delaying processes. But we remain positive and expect the demand for indirect tax and tax technology talent to continue.

Please also read our Financial Services (Indirect Tax) and Customs & Global Trade insights.

Alex Mann is a Director in the Tax Division at Harvey John.

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